Teaching Children Not to Come in From the Cold

winter-3016303_960_720-300x200 Teaching Children Not to Come in From the Cold

Teaching Children Not to Come in From the Cold

At a recent holiday gathering, I was with some adults inside the house while the children were outside playing some team sport. It was bitterly cold but that did not seem to diminished the noisy activities outside in the snow.

As I was conversing with someone else, we both noticed a little boy, all bundled up, sitting alone at a table. My friend asked him what was wrong.

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Despite his thick down jacket, he replied that he was cold. He decided not to play with the other children and literally left his teammates out in the cold.

My friend asked him if he didn’t feel he was letting down his teammates by coming inside. The idea that others might need or depend on him never even crossed his mind, and he didn’t answer the question. He merely smiled, thus ending the conversation.

A Philosophy That Abhors Misfortune

The brief episode revealed to me a lot of what is wrong with our education and child rearing practices. There is a philosophy behind the little boy’s actions that can also be found in vast sectors of modern society, including many “big boys.”

That philosophy is that when a situation becomes uncomfortable, simply leave and smile without thinking of the consequences. Personal comfort becomes the standard of judgment for most things. Everything must be done to prevent misfortune — even if it only be bitter cold.

Of course, everyone knows the school of hard knocks is an excellent teacher and builder of character. Most would accept the notion that when misfortune strikes, it can do children a lot of good. However, few people break the unwritten commandment out there that says we cannot wish suffering or misfortune upon our children. They must open the door at the first sign of discomfort from the cold.

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Wishing Misfortune Upon Graduates

That is why I was surprised to see a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by Bob Greene that recounted an extraordinary graduation speech given last spring by Chief Justice John Roberts to his son’s high school class. His address broke every rule for the optimistic speeches that are normally given at these affairs. It provides some lessons for boys little and big who come in from the cold.

Indeed, Chief Justice Roberts does the unthinkable: he told them directly that he hoped misfortune would cross their path.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.”

“I hope you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty.”

Roberts proceeds to wish upon the newest generation a string of misfortunes including loneliness, bad luck, loss (with gloating winners) and the state of being ignored. All of this, the Chief Justice affirms, will make them appreciate the contrary virtue.

Not Cruel or Lacking Compassion

Some might think the Chief Justice’s words are cruel and lacking compassion. One should never wish misfortunate on anyone regardless of the benefits that might be obtained. This is especially true of children who are weak and vulnerable.

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However, the justice is not wishing upon children any avoidable evil. He does not wish any specific act that threatens them on the horizon.

He tells the graduates of the certain future that awaits them. Everyone without exception eventually suffers misfortunate. They will suffer injustice and betrayal whether another wishes it upon them or not. They will be lonely, unlucky and ignored. They will be bitterly cold.

It is best to accept these sufferings and take lessons from them.

The Real Cruelty

Cruel are those who desire that children be shielded from all suffering and misfortune. Such children will enter the world unprepared for the trials that inevitably await them. They will experience resentment and rage because they believe misfortunes to be unfair (and they often are unfair).

They will feel entitled to all benefits without the effort of meriting them. These poor children will suffer much more than those who embrace misfortunate. They will melt like snowflakes before adversity. They will resort to drugs and addictions as a means to escape the reality of life’s misfortunate. They will come in from the least cold.

Not Sufficient to Overcome Our Passions

Our unbridled passions and self-interest are such that even the best of intentions are often defeated. The only way to overcome these obstacles is to follow a higher ideal.
The words of Chief Justice Roberts, while wise and true, are not enough. His comments reflect an appeal to a type of natural virtue that can help build character in youth and look after self-interest. They might serve to help a person accept trials with stoic resignation. However, such advice alone cannot overcome our nature that abhors suffering and misfortune, and wants in from the cold.

Our unbridled passions and self-interest are such that even the best of intentions are often defeated. The only way to overcome these obstacles is to follow a higher ideal that consumes the person and allows the soul to embrace, with love, that which our fallen nature rejects.

Without such an ideal, there is no compelling reason to do that which is so difficult. We will fail to find the strength to overcome the passions.

The Cross of Christ

The great victory of the Church is that she proposes the consuming ideal of seeking the Cross of Christ. With the help of Grace, we are taught, even at a tender age, not merely to accept our sufferings but to embrace them with love. We carry the crosses of our misfortunes with joy and resignation since our model is Christ, Who suffered infinitely more for us.

Christian civilization was a society in which children are taught to embrace the cross. The Church taught them to love their neighbor as themselves for the love of God. It creates a society full of charity, respect and responsibility. A society in which sacrifice was valued as a means to perfection and sanctification, and also led to a passion for excellence and beauty. It created a society full of innocence and wonder.

In short, this Christian ideal is the only one that builds upon and perfect nature. The child senses the loving presence and aid of God as a Father and Mary as mother. Such a society is the perfect school of the small child to overcome laziness and selfishness. It enkindles inside the innocent heart of the child a burning love that conquers the cold cruel world outside.

As seen on The Stream.

35 thoughts on “Teaching Children Not to Come in From the Cold

  1. great article john I could not have said it better myself when my grandchildren visit I am going to lock them outside to teach them a lesson

  2. All who are commenting on this article must not live where it is really cold – and I mean really cold! Never would I force a child to stay out in the cold, especially if he were just on a play-time team. Tough luck for the other kids – switch it up. My family have always been painfully thin, to the point where there are some who said they would move to warmer climes when they could. And they did!

    Not everyone handles cold exactly the same. I don’t agree with your analogy. Those who could not stand the cold turned out to be wonderful, kind and caring people. And those who didn’t, have addictions. Their addictions are familial – all children were treated the same, so why did 2 out of 4 end up with alcohol addiction.

    Having had 3 special needs children, I find your premise and conclusions to be a bit simplistic. If only!

    • You’re reading WAY too much into this…try to understand what he is trying to say…do not judge by your own set of special, rare circumstances.

      • Dear Vapor Trails,

        Do you think I am ” reading WAY too much into this “?

        From your comment, I can only assume that you have normal children. My situation is by no means rare or special. When you have children with special needs, you find out very quickly that you are by no means alone. If you do not have any children with problems, then you will not have a clue what the lives of many, many families are like. I am happy for you that you do not have to live with, not only children with disorders, but the great amount of criticism and unsolicited advice one constantly receives from people who have no idea what one’s life is like.

        Some of my children needed advocates, from the very beginning of school.
        The suffering they endured from teachers, administrators and doctors was appalling. Fellow students did not even enter the picture. Should I have just said – ” get over it, life is tough ”

        How else can I judge except by my own circumstances? I am the second oldest of nine children, who were all pretty normal, so I know what normal is.

        The idea of having special needs children was completely out of my sphere when I had my four. And like you, I knew nothing of what many, many families, children and parents, suffered through. Nothing was evident at birth and during the toddler years that I could see at the time, although in hindsight, there were clues. I have one normal child who is like me and my siblings. I was thankful to have him, not because I loved him more, or because his life did not cause us any distress. It was because when all the criticism and unsolicited advice came my way, I could point to him and say, ” well, what about him? I brought them up all the same ”

        And they had nothing to say.

        As for Chief Justice Robert’s speech to the graduates, all my three would have said, ” You mean it’s going to get worse!! ”
        And that goes even for the normal one, who watched his siblings lead difficult lives. Will he ever have children of his own, knowing what they could inherit ( for everything was genetic or familial from my husband’s side )? I have no idea, but I would not blame him if he did not. Adoption might be preferable.

        I have a 15 year old granddaughter who has already said she will probably just adopt. Besides her mom who is my daughter, she has a dad who abandoned her at age three. He was/is a crack addict and sold/sells drugs.

        Two of my children, on top of everything else, have addictions. As adults, this is and always will be a struggle. Are they unusual? Not by any means. Look up how many AA meetings go on in your community every day, and I mean every day. Unless you need to look it up, you would have no idea.

        So you may think I am a little ” over the top “, but I assure you, I have plenty of company. I do not mean this in a disrespectful way, but your ignorance of the subject is very common among those who do not experience a life like mine.

        But I still feel that this topic was handled poorly, leaving parents like me ” out in the cold ” lol. ( Never lose one’s sense of humor! )

        Best regards,

      • To Paula – I received notification of your newest comment via email, but it is not posted here, & I am unable to reply directly.

        I just want to say, that I do NOT think that you are “over the top” in any way. I sincerely feel for you & your lovely family. I have a cousin who has a child with Down’s Syndrome, plus my cousin lost his wife, the mother of his child. My heart breaks for him as I know what he does for his child daily. Unfortunately, my family is not close enough, geographically, to assist, or we would physically do so, but we do offer prayers daily, & emotional support when possible.

        I did not mean to make light of your comment, & I should have been more sensitive to your situation. I responded out of a mindset that was geared towards those here who simply looked at the literal wording of the “cold child”, rather than the analogy to which the author was making reference. My apologies to you, & please be assured that my family will include you in our daily prayers. We admittedly have no idea how your situation affects you daily, &, while it may seem like a platitude, we do pray for those who are less fortunate. I am personally involved in an organization that supports families with special needs, & we try to be as involved as we can, as a family, to help others like your family, both physically & emotionally. Again, we hope that, while you have many issues to deal with, your family is blessed in some way, not the least of which is through you, as a mother & grandmother. We also hope that you can find the good in your situation, & that God smiles upon you.

  3. If a little child is cold, he should not be criticized for coming in from the cold! Not to form an object lesson for adults. I hope that child was fictional.

    • There is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Get on a good coat, a ski hat, and gloves and get out there and move. I used to run 10 miles when it was 13 degrees and windy and I loved it because I had my hat and gloves and good running sweats on.

      • Vapor Trails– Stop your criticism! Are you a parent? A child is a big responsibility! God places parents on this earth to responsibly love and care for their children– which are His! If you want to go and join the toughest Marines in the world, and go be a “Big, Tough, Macho Guy,” and proudly endure tons of pain and glory galore– and hope to get yourself a big, egoistic medal of honor for it — fine! Go do it! And make sure your children are all SAFE, LOVED, and WELL-CARED-FOR!! Otherwise, a social worker from the State may get a call about that poor little child left out in the cold, by some thoughtless, cruel, abusive, neglectful parent—- and REMOVE YOUR CHILDREN FROM YOU PERMANENTLY!!

        • Golly. Aren’t you pleased as punch that the “State” can enforce your values? Good luck to you when it enforces on you values with which you are not best pleased.

        • I am absolutely a parent. Please don’t tell me how to raise children. I have a grown 35 year old who is a credit to his fellow human beings, & am raising 3 fine children who are very active in the church & community. I have never left them out in the cold, physically, spiritually or emotionally. I teach my children to give to others before they “give” to themselves. I also teach them that they have to be tough to survive. Not your silly mention of “macho”, but spiritually & emotionally tough. I do not coddle them, kiss every little boo-boo & tell them everything is ok, as you would have me do. Sometimes they have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, & move on. They don’;t always get a trophy – they get one when they deserve one, not just for showing up. That’s how children learn that they are loved & well-cared for. They are also relatively safe – as safe as one can be in society today. Should I not have them ride bikes or play sports because they “might” get hurt? I won’t wrap them in a bubble “just in case”, as you seem to suggest.

          Your retort makes absolutely no sense – please read my comment above where I explain what I meant originally. Again, READ the article, try to understand what the author is saying, rather than acting like a Protestant quoting Bible verses, picking words & sentences out of context to use for your own misguided thoughts.

  4. This is ridiculous! So STUPID, so SELFISH, and so CRUEL, of a VERY SELFISH ADULT– to heartlessly JUDGE a poor little boy this way– all because he says, “I am COLD!” Where is the Christian LOVE and WARMTH for this poor ittle boy, and concern for his well-being? WHERE? And who in the world, are his so-called “teammates?” SO WHAT? Is this the sick, liberal “socialist” experiement, in the schoolyard?? Or the “TOUGH-GUY, IGNORANT, MACHO, MEAN DAD,” from the wrong side of the tracks– aggressivey warning his son, to “GET TOUGH EARLY IN LIFE,” BECAUSE LIFE IS “MEAN, COLD, AND COMPETITIVE”—- AND HIS SON HAD BETTER NOT BE A SISSY!!

    • You are another one who obviously missed the point of the author…try to read it again, slowly this time, & make sure that you understand what he is trying to say…please.

      • Vapor Trails– YES, people over-react to such strange essays, involving unnecessary criticism, and strange ways to harm little children! And the strange question, of a little child, bearing a big and ridicuous responsibility, for “supporting team-mates,” for an impromptu, very dumb, backyard game of sports– on a day when parents should be responsibly calling their kids to come inside, immediately, out of the freezing cold, and fnd something better to do?? Of course! Do you believe in Christ-like love for your fellow man, and special love, for little children? Are you also a parent or grand-parent? The essay is quite flawed! Best that you refrain from criticising others who have valid concerns for this very flawed essay! Maybe you could offer tips, if you are interested, to re-write the flawed essay!

        • Ok, you win. Keep your focus on the “child in the cold” theme if it works for you. I see that there is no point in discussing the overall theme of the article any further, since you seem to think that the author is advocating letting a child freeze, rather than seeing the analogy for what it is – commentary on the selfishness of our modern society. Granted, I get that the words “bitter cold” could nave been said differently, but it doesn’t change the point of the analogy. God Bless!

  5. The point of this article is not the weather or appropriate clothing or picking on a child. This is an analogy about how society has become self-centered to the detriment of all.

    • You are right, but It’s almost pointless to try to explain it to some people — they just don’t get it. Self Centered, but also, as described, we are raising snow flakes that melt at the slightest sign of adversity. No amount of discomfort is tolerated. Look at our druggie society. They invent one drug after another
      r so that you will feel not one bit of discomfort — just pop another pill. It’s all tied together.

      • As you can see by my comments below, I absolutely agree with your points (Christina & CFBona). However, as you can also see, as I’ve tried to explain the analogy, I am getting bashed for this viewpoint.

        Upon re-reading the article, I can see what some are saying, even though I don’t agree with their points of looking at the article literally rather than as an analogy. The author does mention “bitter cold”, & while I agree that no one should be expected to stay outside in freezing cold, I still feel that the author is making an analogy, although, admittedly, it could have been stated better with different wording.

        But again, we come to the point of the analogy – the meaning of our self-centered society today, where kids are growing with the ideas that it’s all about “me me me”, chase the almighty dollar (their parents teach them this in a profound way), & “as long as I’m comfortable, no one else matters”. We are being raised in a much more secular society where the common good & care for others is being swept away, as we are taught to attend to our own needs.

        Even though my comments are being met with closed minds & no understanding whatsoever, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, & as I stated, I have my opinion as well. I stand by what I said – this is an analogy, & no one is advocating keeping a child out in the bitter cold, which seems to be everyone’s primary focus, rather than the overall theme of the article. It seems that education today is going downhill as well…

  6. To write an article about selfishness– best to think very clearly, about this subject, as it relates to modern-day problems! From the 1960s “hippie” generation, on down to the present- day– we see EXTREME examples of selfishness, hedonism, coarseness, filth, immorality, waywardness, disorder, lawlessness, and violence! No respect for religious and civil authority!
    Complete rejection of Judeo-Christian morality- near-total destruction to Western civilization, and to Traditional Marriage and Family! Very IGNORANT “barbarians,” sacking Rome — once again! Obedience to Christ in all things first, is “Number One” in life! Always PLEASE GOD FIRST– NOT YOURSELF!! Or else- YOU MAY LOSE YOUR SOUL!!

  7. This is quite the thread of comments. Some of them even gave me a good chuckle! The cold weather is currently a reality…and I am certainly one to avoid it as much as possible. I also recognize the cold as a metaphor but the snowflakes are unfortunately real. Thank you for sharing the quotes by Chief Justice Roberts, he was a wise man.

  8. A good, recent example, of selfless courage, and loving sacrifice for others– the brave, heroic firemen and first responders, who gave all they had, to fight the California wildfires and mudslides, and risked their lives, trying to rescue people!

  9. It is absolutely insensitive and biased for this author to declare the child selfish and not caring for others! What about the others caring for a team mate that is in a difficult situation which he could not cope with? Why couldn’t they sacrifice and come in and keep him
    Company? Nothing mattered that this little one was abandoned because of their own pleasure? Nothing mattered about how he must be feeling because he was missing out on the fun that he couldn’t help? Wow! This writer is just the exact mirror of the society today. People suffer injustice and discrimination and pain while others just see it from their own angle, not caring about the actual sufferers but turn it all round to themselves. If anyone is unChristianly here, it is both the author and the rest of the kids who didn’t care that one small boy is left alone while they had their own fun. Instead, they use one finger to point at the boy while ignoring the three fingers God is pointing at them! Shame on the selfishness of man!
    And to those who are so blindsided that they see nothing wrong with this analogy, go and pray for your heart and eyes to open so you can try and see the other side, and be sensitive to other person’s plight!!

    • Gee, life just sucks when everyone doesn’t stop having fun because one child decides not to participate. Injustice? Discrimination? Pain? Even children have to accept the consequences of an act. That does not make the act good or bad, but just something with ramifications.

  10. God bless Chief Justice Roberts. He put things in a way only a man of his vast experiences can put it. It shows that he works with both his heart and head. I love him for this, harsh and blunt as he may sound. Only the person wearing a hurtful shoe knows where and how much it hurts.
    May we all learn to share in the cross by considering one another.

  11. Children will go out to play, even in the cold. They need to get out and play sometimes and parents shouldn’t obstruct this natural inclination. I would be more worried about the sedentary, anti-social child that wants to spend all day inside glued to a screen. That kid should be sent out for some outdoors play even if he doesn’t “feel” like it.
    That being said, understand that electronics may not do so well in extreme cold. A child may have to find some other way to entertain himself.

  12. Self sacrificing for others is a wonderful tenet. I’m happy & privileged to do so for my immediate family & friends but there are so many horrible people in today’s society I wouldn’t lift a finger to help‼️I was taught that every human being has value, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that too many people are simply worthless. Bullies, greedy businessmen, white supremacists, alt-right idiots, self-righteous evangelicals, Republikkkans, Trump lovers…the list goes on & on. I’m raising my children to believe in education, science, their own intuitiveness, & good old common sense‼️

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